30 Days of Thanksgiving: Intro & Day 1

Introduction: Every year since college, I’ve tried to complete little monthly challenges – 31 Days in pictures, 30 Days of this.. of that – and each year, I’ve failed to finish a full month. I’ve actually never witnessed any of my friends or family complete any monthly writing/posting challenge now that I think about it.

November is normally National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, and many of my friends do their best to fulfill the task of writing a complete novel. After my experience with writingThe Donner Encounter, which spanned from September 2012 to January 2013, I do not believe in partaking in NaNoWriMo. However, I do work on my second novel, a fantasy fiction, once a week between 1-4 hours. I now understand the burden of my favorite authors had to/have to face in order to create their masterpieces.

Since I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, this November, I’m taking on the 30 Days of Thanks, where I’m to write about something I’m grateful for every day, and since it’s November 1 already, I’d like to start where my life story began… My parents.

My parents at my wedding, April 2014

If not for my parents, I wouldn’t be here in flesh and blood, and without them leaving the Philippines to work in the US, I wouldn’t have made it Stateside. Because of them, I’ve got an idea (and an opinion) of what sacrifice, dedication, persistence, and moral fiber mean. My parents taught me many things, whether they did it together or individually, and as much as it seemed as if I didn’t absorb it at the time, I did. Now, when I really look back at my past, I can really say that I had one heck of great upbringing.

My parents with Tita Chari (left) at their Physical Therapy Doctorate Graduation at VCU. 2012

Take my mom – my Mama – for starters. She alone had a difficult life once I became a reality. At my delivery, she nearly died because of me. Then, at two months, she made the hard decision of leaving behind her baby (and her husband) behind in the Philippines to work in New Jersey. (She’s a physical therapist.) Sure, she returned home every so often, but I don’t really remember those visits. All I have are stories from my family telling me that instead of saying “hello” and hugging my Mama when she’d visit, I’d run to her picture at my bed and wave, say “hi”, and kiss her picture.

I especially know I didn’t make life easy for her when she did bring me “home” to Virginia. I spent a good year just crying myself to sleep.

My Mama at a Glock shoot. 2011

She never gave up though. She was a fierce protector when it came to me – and vocal at that – and it came out when I encountered my first few rounds of racism in the South at ages 5-7. She was the one who told me to “never start fights”, but if I ever find myself in one, to “end it hard and fast” and to make sure the one who started it “remembers who won the battle”.

Yes, my Mama’s a firecracker; the spitfire my temper takes after. I also got my fierce determination and protective behavior from her. Not to mention my height and “witch” laugh that people tend to automatically notice after meeting both of us. A lot of my other qualities, I got from my Papa.

My Papa on a medical mission in the Philippines, 2014

He’s patient, nurturing, encouraging that balances my Mama’s temper, discipline, and stubbornness. Imagine that… I really did just describe myself. My Papa was the one who taught me how and why patience is one of the most important virtues a person must have. It seems as if it’s a trait one cannot learn from another, but when you observe my Papa, you won’t be able to help yourself in thinking or saying something like “That man has the patience of a saint” or “He’s such a calm man.” I’ve heard those phrases so many time from patients in his physical therapy clinic, and after 10 years in his own practice, I really did believe he was the most patient person I would ever know in my life. I have seen him lose his patience and control… just once, and I was the one who triggered it, and let’s just say, that one time is enough for me.

My parents with their sidecar rigs. 2013

My Papa’s my modern image of the Renaissance Man. Professionally, he’s a Physical Therapist, a Medical Doctor, and now, he can add College Professor. He’s been volunteering as a medical missions’ doctor as of late, and then, he’s got his hobbies. From his youth to his current semi-retired lifestyle, he’s dabbled in so many activities, which he’s passed the passion for learning new things to me (my life motto: “Learn something new every day” is because of him). He’s had/has his sports: Soccer, marathons, archery, range shooting, skeet shooting, competition shooting, scuba diving; toss in the arts: drawing, painting, wood turning; add the vehicles: motorcycles and sidecar rigs; and then, there’s music.

Elle with Parents at Bachelor’s Degree graduation at UTK. 2010

Both my parents love music, but my Papa is the one who has a hefty love affair with it but can’t seem to get a handle on learning an instrument. So, when I was in fifth grade, I wanted to play the flute because he always wanted to play the instrument. However, I couldn’t blow or whistle into the thing, so I chose the clarinet, and that’s when he introduced me to my musical idol, Benny Goodman. From there, my dad “tossed me into the deep end” of music, and I was swimming in Big Band/Jazz music with Glenn Miller, Louie Armstrong, and Gene Krupa. As years progressed, he expanded my genres to the likes of Billy Joel, to Carlos Santana, while my Mama nudged in some Classical and Broadway. Together, they invested in tickets to introduce me to Broadway performances… The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, South Pacific, Cats,West Side Story just to name a few.

My Papa at a Glock shoot. 2011

My Papa also taught me how to shoot range (handgun and rifle), how to cook and bake, how to iron clothes. He led by example as to how to treat people as individuals and how to accept opinions of others without losing my own beliefs. He was the one who taught me the value of a dollar – by having me do chores around the house and to volunteer in his clinic, which showed me what I really wanted to do was to help and entertain others.

My Mama on a medical mission in the Philippines, 2014

My parents set the bar for discipline, self-reliance, persistence, and in the end, they had set the standards that are my current state of self-balance. I know how to live off the land, if I must, by hunting, scavenging, gathering, and planting. At my musical peak, they had supported my hunger to play six (or should I count seven?) unique instruments, ranging from strings to winds. Because of my Mama, I speak two languages fluently, and thanks to their encouragement, I can comprehend a total of six languages. (I may struggle speaking, but by golly, I can hear something and understand it!) I’m a passionate Foodie thanks to them, and my love for traveling is because they sent me on adventures to not just towns or cities but also to states and countries.

As much as I have my personal experience to support my opinion and logic, I have my parents to thank for planting the seed, for lighting the flame in my head and heart to try everything once, to give what I do 100% and some more, and to always get back up, dust myself off, and keep moving if and when I fall.

November 1, 2014: I’m thankful for my parents, who even through my darkest years and minor successes have always been two of my biggest kicks in the butt, critics, and fans.




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